“Bullying at work involves repeated negative actions and practices that are directed at one or more workers. The behaviors are unwelcome and undertaken in circumstances where the target has difficulty defending him or herself. The behaviors may be carried out as deliberate acts or unconsciously. These behaviors cause humiliation, offense, and distress to the target. The outcomes of the bullying behaviors have been shown to cause significant distress and impairment in social occupational and other areas of functioning”(Einarsen et al, 2003; 15). “To be classified as bullying, the behavior needs to be perceived as negative and unwelcome, must involve an imbalance of power, and have to be persistent and long-term”(Tehrani, 2012; 4). The main causes of workplace bullying are workload and poor working conditions. Workplace bullying is an important matter because it has effects on both the victim and the company. Effects on the victim can be health problems, depression, social isolation, anxiety, and insomnia. As a result of these effects on the victim, it could lead to employees leaving the company, being absent regularly, a decrease in their commitment to the company, and a decrease in their level of productivity. Three categories of bullying in the workplace are gang bullying, passive-aggressive bullying, and cyberbullying.
Gang bullying, also known as “mobbing” is one category of bullying in the workplace. Imagine a group of people in the workplace teaming up to make someone feel like they do not belong through discriminatory means, this is known as gang bullying. According to bullying in the workplace, “Mobbing is a severe form of bullying that is defined as a highly aggressive and coordinated attack by many on a few, or often one, individual(s), in which the removal of that individual from the organization is a clear goal of the aggressive attack”(Laura M. Crothers et al.). According to bullying online, “Gang bullying has two types of bullies that lead the group, they can be either introverts or extroverts”(Tim Field sec.9). The extrovert can be easily spotted because they would be very boisterous when bullying someone and they are always at the forefront of the group. The introvert, on the other hand, is very conniving and he or she will be initiating the bullying from the background, this type of bully will be very hard to identify. The 2017 US Workplace Bullying survey showed, “60.4 million Americans are affected by bullying and 65% lose their jobs to stop being bullied because bullying can cause stress and other mental health problems.”(para. 2). Gang bullying in the workplace can occur by someone verbally or physically abusing a person, then work colleagues will join in making that person feel alienated from the work environment. This can cause the victim to have serious mental afflictions like stress or depression which can lead to people taking their lives or leave their jobs. Bullying is just wrong and should not be happening, especially in the workplace where people are grown enough to act civil. Managers should also put policies in place to prevent bullying and punish those that do.
Another category of workplace bullying is passive-aggressive bullying. According to Ellie Williams, “Aggressive behavior in the workplace puts employees at risk, hinders productivity, and hurts the company’s reputation”. “Passive aggression is a deliberate and masked way of expressing hidden anger (Long, Long, & Whitson, 2009). Three ways in which employees express hidden anger are by intimidating, ignoring a person, and abduction of rights. Intimidation occurs when an employee calls out their co-worker in a meeting, to humiliate and embarrass them. Ignoring, for example, is when a worker ignores someone’s email or notes addressed to them. Abusion of rights is when employees take unnecessary sick days just because they know they can. Moreover, which can lead to missing deadlines and important meetings on purpose. However, this type of bullying is not recognized easily in the organization. Moreover, in order to identify this type of bullying in the workplace, the manager, or employee will need to take an evaluation of the specific person who they suspect. The results will show whether this behavior has been occurring continuously with makes it passive-aggressive bullying. In addition to this, individuals with this type of behavior try to manipulate a person or control them. These types of bullies don’t speak out about their problems or what they are going through. Which makes communication and interaction with a passive-aggressive bully complicated.
Cyberbullying is another category of bullying that exists within the workplace. According to Justin Patchin and Hinjuda cyber bullying is, “wilful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones or other electronic devices” (7). Cyberbullying is not like traditional bullying it can take place outside of working hours or the workplace, it is sometimes clandestine and the perpetrator can be anonymous. Additionally, cyberbullying is not always prominent, and be perpetrated in a subtle form. An example of this type of cyberbullying is an email from a colleague that carries an unpleasant undertone. This subtle negative use of technology is difficult to identify because messages can be interpreted differently by different people, therefore, allowing the bully to easily escape from the situation (David Webb para 3). Cyberbullying is also exhibited through exclusion, cruelly excluding an employee from an online group ( 227). Moreover, cyberbullying is not limited to employees of the same organization but can include employees from another organization within the same industry. An example of this is electronic sabotage or sending an email that contains a virus (Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety para 1). A report on cyberbullying in the United Kingdom in 2013, indicated that eight out of ten workers experienced at least one occasion of cyberbullying during a six-month period, it also noted that it has become the preferred style of bullying among employees because the victim has no control over who witnesses the abuse (Unison 6). It is therefore important to note with the growth of technology, an anonymous perpetrator and no witnesses this act of bullying is difficult for employers to identify, thereby tedious to eradicate from the workplace.
“Workplace bullying is persistent, unwelcome, intrusive behavior of one or more individuals whose actions prevent others from fulfilling their duties” (Field, 1996, p. 46). Workplace bullying has been classified into passive-aggressive, cyber and mobbing, and gang bullying. These types of bullying can be grouped and classified as a process carried out by individuals which causes demotivation of an employee and conflict within the organization.
- “7 Rules and 8 Methods for Responding to Passive-Aggressive People by Monica A. Frank, Ph.D.” Excel At Life, excelatlife.com/articles/crazy-makers_rules.htm.
- Violence, Aggression, and Passive-Aggression in the Workplace, www8.esc.edu/ESConline/across_esc/forumjournal.nsf/3cc42a422514347a8525671d0049f395/29b0b2d84f5b2ca7852569e5000b6de7
- Williams, Ellie. 'Aggressive Behavior in the Workplace.' Work - Chron.com, http://work.chron.com/aggressive-behavior-workplace-17525.html. Accessed 24 March 2019.
- Field, Tim. “Types of Bullying.” Bully Online, bullyonline.org/index.php/bullying/2-types-of-bullying
- Lipinski, John, and Laura M. Crothers. Bullying in the Workplace : Causes, Symptoms, and Remedies. Routledge, 2013.
- Tehrani, Noreen, editor. Workplace Bullying: Symptoms and Solutions. Routledge, 2012.
- Workplacebullying.org, www.workplacebullying.org/wbiresearch/wbi-2017-survey/.